Tip-Off: 2 PM CDT
Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City, OK)
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
G Buddy Hield has emerged as a young playmaker for this tanking Sacramento squad, and since he was traded to the Kings, he has averaged 13.5 points while shooting 50.9% from the field, 48.1% from three, and 84.2% from the free throw line. The Thunder has seen Hield twice this season, when he played for the Pelicans, and in two of those matchups, he scored in double digits. Hield is only a rookie, but he can be dangerous if he gets hot from beyond the arc.
Keys to the Game
- Beat ‘Em Up Inside: Since the departure of DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings have been dramatically affected in their interior game. In the 11 games without Cousins, Sacramento has scored only 43.1 points in the paint per game (18th in the NBA), while allowing 45.6 points in the paint per game (22nd in the NBA). Over the same time period, the Thunder has excelled at scoring down low by averaging 50.0 points in the paint, which is right on par with their league-leading 49.4 points in the paint for the season. The Thunder should look to take advantage of the Kings and their lack of a real inside presence.
- Run In Transition: Oklahoma City has been one of the league’s top teams at running the fast break and defending it all season long, while Sacramento has struggled. Since the All-Star Break, the Thunder has continued their transition efficiency, while the Kings have continued to flounder. Oklahoma City is 3rd in the NBA in fast break points per game with 17.2 while allowing only 11.1 points in transition per game, which is 5th in the league. Since the All-Star Break, the Thunder has only improved their fast break play by scoring 17.5 points per game and allowing a league best 9.5 fast break points per game. Also since the break, The Kings, however, have scored a mere 10.4 points in transition per game (26th in the NBA), and they have allowed teams to score 14.7 points per game on the fast break (27th in the NBA). The Thunder loves to run a full court offense, especially since they struggle in the half court at times, so they will look to expose Sacramento today.
- Keep Sharing the Ball: During Oklahoma City’s current 4-game win streak, the Thunder have had at least 5 players score in double digits while the team has shot 49.7% from the field, including 42.2% from three. A major part for the team success has been Russell Westbrook’s ability to get teammates involved early and often, and if he continues to do so, the Thunder undoubtedly have a chance to win a game against an undermanned team like the Kings.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.